NEWS RELEASE
Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.


April 3, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

COMMUNITY LIVING ASSISTANT SENTENCED

Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that a community living assistant (CLA), Alswell Umechuruba, was sentenced by Prince Georgeís County Circuit Court Judge E. Allen Shepherd to two two-year suspended sentences running concurrently for leaving two vulnerable adult residents alone and unsupervised in a residential group home.

Umechuruba, 38, a resident of Tentmill Lane, Pikesville, Maryland, entered a guilty plea to one count of reckless endangerment and one count of vulnerable adult neglect for leaving two residents, ages 54 and 47 alone and unsupervised in a residential group home located at 6845 Trexler Road in Lanham. Umechuruba worked for Caring Hands Inc. (CHI) at one of its residential group homes in Prince Georgeís County. The judge placed Umechuruba on supervised probation for two years for both counts and ordered that Umechuruba not engage in caregiving in the health care field for hire or pro bono during the term of his probation. Judge Shepherd also ordered Umechuruba to complete 120 hours of community service and to pay a $100 fine.

On July 9, 1999, as part of his duties as a CLA, Umechuruba was required to assist the two residents onto a shuttle van so that they could attend their adult day care program from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Both of the residents were blind, nonverbal, profoundly mentally retarded, and required assistance with their activities of daily living. Umechuruba went outside to talk to some unknown person and could not get back into the facility because the side door that he had exited locked behind him and the front door had a chain lock to secure it from the inside. Instead of calling someone for assistance or remaining at the group home with the residents, Umechuruba left the area at approximately 9:00 a.m. The two victim-residents remained in the residential group home alone and unsupervised until 2:00 p.m. when the next CHI staff member arrived for his shift. CHI staff had to gain access into the facility by breaking down the front door, as the other doors were locked. When the CHI staff discovered the residents, both of them were hungry, and needed to be bathed, clothed, and groomed.

This case was referred by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and prosecuted by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Attorney Generalís Office, which has the authority to investigate and prosecute vulnerable adult abuse and neglect in facilities receiving Medicaid funds.

###